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Thessalonians 5 v 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with h

The wonder and excitement of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and glory has been occupying our thoughts for several weeks now.

And we are coming to the end of this marvellous section in 1 Thessalonians 5. Paul tells us in verse 8b to 9 about two things that are ours as believers.

1. Our Armour.

8b putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

2. Our Appointment.

9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

In verse 10 – 11 there are two more things that we possess

3. Our Assurance.

10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

4. Our Application.

11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Very briefly we touched on our Assurance last week.

But there is a little more to say.

3. Our Assurance.

10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

The Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins – on our behalf and for our benefit. Death is the penalty for sin and Jesus died that we might live. His death and our life are connected inseparably. Our life is due entirely to His death. He died our death so that we may live His life! When He comes again for the Christian it will not matter whether we are alive or have died beforehand. We are going to live together with Him!

These truths are the basis of our Assurance as believers. There is a certainty in our faith. We can be absolutely sure that what God has said in His word, the Bible, is true and the future for all of His elect loved ones is secure and certain. Assurance and certainty – 2 wonderful words.

Most will have heard of the famous scientist Michael Faraday. He was responsible for the discovery of electromagnetism and how to harness it, producing electricity without batteries. Faraday was a sincere Christian, a preacher of the Gospel, an elder in his local chapel and one who had a full assurance of His faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. On top of this he was a famous scientist. As he neared his death some of his students asked him, “What are your speculations now?”

He replied immediately “Speculations have I none – I am resting on CERTAINTIES.” Then he repeated slowly and deliberately Paul’s words from 2 Timothy 1 v 12

…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

How is the Lord Jesus Christ able to keep Faraday’s life and soul safe until the day of Judgement and beyond?

Because he has died to atone for His people’s sins. This is what our text in verse 10 says

10 Who died for us,

Death is the penalty for sin. Therefore we must know what death is about my friends to have any hope of understanding what the certainty of our Assurance is. Death need have no terrors for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. But what is death? What do the scriptures have to say about death?

1. Death is the separation of the Spiritual from the Material part of a person – i.e. separation of the soul from the body.

At death the body ceases to function and after this it disintegrates into dust. There is enough Biblical data to prove this.

Genesis 3 v 19 God said to Adam after he had sinned – In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Then in Genesis 5 comes Adam’s epitaph-

5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

The account of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, two people who lied and paid the penalty, are carried out to be buried –

10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

And the truth is that we can only die once – Hebrews 9 verse 27 says so –

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Death then is an experience that awaits men and women. Our souls will separate from our bodies – our bodies will remain here whatever our relatives do with them – but we will be released from those bodies.

2. Death is the separation of man from God.

Again Genesis records how Adam was warned of the consequences of disobeying God.

2 v 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

All mankind are descended from Adam and are born, begin life, are even conceived in the same state of separation from God. All human beings begin life in this condition – separation from God. Several scripture verses show this – first the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself –

John 5 v 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

Then in Romans 5 there is a passage that makes these facts about death plain –

12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Ephesians 2 v 1 proclaims our deadness –

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

and Chapter 4 v 18

Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

It can be seen then from these portions of the Word that death is the opposite of life. When considering man, life is never equal to existence; neither is death equal to non existence.

God created Man. God called man into existence – by His mighty and powerful word.

Genesis 1 v 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: … 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

But have you ever noticed that the opposite is never said to be true – Scripture is silent about man’s ceasing to exist.

Called into existence – to exist for ever.

Life according to the Bible when used of the soul of a human being may be defined as CONSCIOUS EXISTENCE IN COMMUNION WITH GOD.

John 3 v 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 17 v 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

So what is death?

Death when used of man, and not merely of his body, is CONSCIOUS EXISTENCE IN SEPARATION FROM GOD.

All who are not IN CHRIST are dead.

All who are IN CHRIST live or have eternal life. Jesus said in John 4 v 47

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

All people, whether living or dead, equally exist and are equally conscious of existing.

Now why did death come into the world?

Death is the consequence of sin.

We are perhaps familiar with the scripture truth that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God and therefore all die as a punishment for sin – Romans 6 conveys this.

But have you ever thought about it the other way round?

All die – therefore all must be sinners!

And when we think this way then it becomes so clear why Jesus died – he died as the bearer of sin on the cross – not His own – but the sins of other human beings.

1 Peter 2 v 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

10 Who died for us,

– four very powerful words that contribute to our Assurance. If we had to die for our own sins and be consciously separated from God for all eternity to come – what a grim future we have.

Yet we have a substitute – a man who was prepared to die for us. A man who was able to die for us, in our place – qualified by virtue of His unique sinlessness. He was the only one who could bear the sins of others – because He had no sins of His own.

While the physical death of the Lord Jesus Christ was of the essence of His sacrifice for sins – it was not the whole. The darkness at Calvary symbolised something terrible and awesome. His cry of anguish “My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me,” expressed that our saviour, on the cross, was left alone in the universe. He was forsaken by the father – because death is separation of man from God.

Notice how perfectly the Lord Jesus Christ in His manhood identified with us sinners perfectly and adequately and acceptably to fulfil God’s righteous demands –

Since death is separation of the spirit from the body – so the Lord Jesus Christ had that death happen to Him. The scripture account says so –

Matthew 27 v 50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

And what is more since death is the separation of man from God that also happened to our saviour –

Matthew 27 v 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

It is never said that the Lord Jesus Christ fell asleep when he died.

My friends our salvation is CERTAIN because of the reality of Christ’s death on the cross – so that Whether we are awake at His coming Or whether we are asleep at His coming We Will Live Togther With Him!

This is our assurance this morning – we have a satisfactory substitute who has borne our punishment and submitted Himself to wrath on our behalf.

1. But is this YOUR assurance this morning my friend?

Has the Lord Jesus Christ died for YOU? It is all well and good for we who know Christ, who have been born again, who have eternal life and are conscious of our existence in communion with God in this life – but what about you dear friend?

Are you seeking the Lord?

Are you ready to repent and turn from sin to Christ as your Saviour?

Turn to Him – believe in Him – trust Him to save you – to cleanse you of all your sins – to pardon you and to turn His wrath away from you.

2. So often our assurance problems lie somewhat like this.

“I am not sure if I am saved. I do not feel saved. I wonder if I prayed the right prayer, did the right things when I became a Christian. Could I have been mistaken?”

How often have friends said these things to us – or how often have we said these things ourselves – even if it is only TO ourselves?

My friends when the spotlight is on US and our experience and our process of conversion and what we did to become a believer in Christ – when these things are uppermost in our thinking – then we are likely to have a lack of assurance and certainty. Why is this? Because we, if it were left to us, we could so easily get it wrong! We know our weaknesses and our failure.

What we should do is to look not within or at ourselves – but to look at the Lord Jesus Christ and what He did for sinners on the cross! Study the scene of Calvary. Meditate on it and think it through. Believe that what he did was on your behalf and that he got it absolutely right! Think of the certainty of Christ’s death on the cross and ask yourself, “Why should God have gone to such great lengths to show His love towards us?”

And the answer is because He loves us and He desired to save us! The initiative is with God. His work is always perfect. What then have we to doubt if the certainty of our assurance is in His nail pierced hands?

So now we can come to our 4th possession in Christ –

4. Our Application.

11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

The world is a tough and unfriendly place as many of us have found to our cost. It is easy to be hurt and be prone to becoming dispirited and depressed by world and community events. But the Lord God means His church to be a society of mutual support. Paul says so in this 11th verse. Satan would be much happier if we were all islands, doing our own thing with no reference to others. The Lord says to the Church, and in particular the Local Church, be a community of love one for another. Bring comfort and encouragement to each other and build each other up.

Some churches like to leave “comforting” to an elite professional body of counsellors and trained comforters. There are occasions when specialist care is called for.

But caring, supporting, encouraging and comforting are ministries which belong to ALL members of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ – of His body. When one member of the body suffers the other members suffer with it.

In Thessalonica these comforting gifts were already being exercised. Paul had acknowledged this in chapter 4 v 9

But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;

John Stott comments that “No community could call itself Christian if it is not characterised by reciprocal love. Yet no community is such a paradise of love that its members do not need to hear Paul urging them “to increase more and more.”

We read earlier in the service the account of the first skirmishes in the battle for the land of Canaan by the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 3. There is an instruction in verse 27 to Moses the leader, to ascend to the top of a mountain called Pisgah. From this vantage point he was to look out over the Promised Land – but he was reminded by the Lord that he would not be permitted to enter it himself.

However he was to do something before he died – Deuteronomy 1 v 38 has God’s word to Moses –

But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.

Moses was to commission Joshua, the next leader. God repeats his instructions in chapter 3 verse 28

But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him:

Moses was to COMMAND him – charge him with the task of leadership; ENCOURAGE Him – make him strong and in doing these things he will become strong – STRENGTHEN him.

Encourage and strengthen are synonyms even though different Hebrew words. But we can see that there is a progression.

As Joshua became conscious of his awesome task to lead Israel into conquest, he would need all the encouragement that the people following him could give. As he was encouraged by them he would be strengthened to do the task – make decisions; direct the troops, deal with strategies, and everything connected with his role as leader. This encouragement was mutual for Joshua would need to inspire and encourage the army too.

11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

What army is there that is not apprehensive before a battle? There are many strategies used to stir themselves up to strength. Red Indians and their war dances; New Zealand rugby players with their displays of aggression before matches; inspiring speeches from commanders to rally soldiers.

What were the Thessalonians in need of? What was troubling them? It was the struggle with doubts and fears about the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ – they dreaded being unprepared.

But from what Paul has written there was no need for any of them to dread not being prepared. He had given them accurate inspired information from the revelation of Christ Himself. Paul had encouraged them with his letter and it would have strengthened them.

However we are seeing here that Paul is applying this even further – he charges them to build each other up through what they have learned. Spiritual growth is always the best antidote to anxiety. And the Thessalonian Christians must not rely on their teachers and apostles to do this for them. They are capable of encouraging each other. This is how they are to wait for the Lord.

11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

What is the lesson for us the church in the 21st century?

We too are to wait patiently and expectantly for the coming of the Lord. We are to keep alert, self-controlled. And we are to EDIFY one another. Edify is the Greek word OIKODOMEO. It expresses the strengthening effect of teaching and example. It comes from a root word that means a building or edifice. Therefore figuratively Paul is saying “build yourselves up;” from the familiar sight of building operations it transfers to the spiritual realm the idea of assured progress as the result of patient and diligent labour. We have a practical example here with these 2 houses being built next to the church. Each week members, as they come to the church, can see a little more progress. The edifice – building, is being more and more edified – built up!

So too the Church – built up in maturity, stature, beauty that is the beauty of holiness – and most of all into that spiritual Temple fit for the Lord Jesus Christ to live in, a place that is worthy of Him.

The way that any church is built is through the example of the Lord Jesus Christ and His teaching recorded in the scriptures.

The spirit of the world as expressed in Cain’s question in Genesis 4 v 9 “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is totally opposite to the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ who says that we are to be our brother’s keeper – another way of saying and edify one another, Jesus said in John 13 v 34

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

And in 1 Peter 2 v 21

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

What an example this is – what a Saviour He is!

Christians have the Holy Spirit in their souls. He prompts us to seek the welfare of other believers – not on any stated occasions, but as opportunity offers, – not in merely a formal way of a rigid command structure, but as from the heart – flowing from genuine love for each other in the Church. In this we realise the genuine and intimate relationships that exist between those who are genuinely of one body – members one of another.

Sometimes this caring and encouragement is rejected by those who really need this care. But the scripture gives us no let out in this – we love and care as the Lord Jesus Christ did, even when rejected of men!

So we need to be reminded from time to time of our responsibilities towards each other – to love as Jesus loved – to serve as Jesus served – to encourage as He has encouraged us to follow in His steps. To build each other up motivated by genuine hearts of love and compassion for each other.

Are we prepared to do this brothers and sisters? This teaching about the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ surely gives us a spur to be encouragers and builders as we see the day approaching – the day of judgement – the wonderful day of the Lord’s return for us. Are we prepared for that day?

So let us comfort each other and pray for each other – His coming is not far away!

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